Peak Kick Off at Amazon

I don’t think people are meant to work nights, or at least wonky things happen to me on this schedule sometimes. I say this because I’ve been laying in bed for over two hours, perfectly awake โ€“ all attempts to fall asleep amounting to nothing more than daydreaming. This is the second time in a week that it’s happened.

The last time had some similarities. It was a day I had off (although that time I needed to work the next day) and same thing. I was laying in bed, quite comfortable, but unable to fall asleep. Maybe it’s the strange hours coupled with the lack of physical activity to make me physically tired. I doubt it’s the soda I had earlier in the day, that was finished over six hours before I went to bed, and last time there had been no caffeine at all. And there are plenty of times I’ve had caffeine closer to bed and fallen right asleep.

Luckily, I still seem capable of functioning when this happens. I’ll get up and work on this post for an hour or so, then try again and probably be able to fall asleep. I’ll still get up around 1 pm, and I’ll be tired, but not impossibly so. Then I’ll probably be tired enough to fall asleep in a timely fashion tomorrow.

* * *

Otherwise, Amazon is going well. It hasn’t been as busy as originally predicted, there have been several times during the past 4 weeks when voluntary time off was offered, although only one night where the white badges (also called Staff, those here from a temporary staffing agency) were turned away at the gate because there wasn’t enough work. Us CamperForce people have always been able to work a full day if we wanted, which most of us have.

Some blame the slowness on the new warehouses that have opened up, meaning less product is coming to us. Some blame hurricane Sandy. I guess I’m not too surprised, whatever the reason. The economy is still slow, and that means less folks willing to part with their hard earned cash.

As of last week though, things have picked up. For Inbound this is considered peak time, we’re bringing in all of the freight that Outbound is going to be shipping out for their peak the day after Thanksgiving. In fact last week was actually the Amazon-wide peak kick off week.

In my original CamperForce article I talked about benefits, and how one of them was always the free stuff that was given out. I do have more to report on that front. Part of peak kick of week is prize giveaways.

Again, who knows if it’s the same for Campbellsville and Fernley, but here there were $25 gift card giveaways during Standup on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It looks like Amazon employees got 5 of them, us CamperForce people got 2-3, and the Staff folks got 1-2. You had an increased chance of getting your name pulled in the drawing if you followed the daily dress theme. Monday was red white and blue day, Tuesday was Amazon shirt day, Wednesday was sports team day, Thursday was hat day, and Friday was Hawaiian shirt day. If you were dressed according to the day’s theme, you got two raffle tickets instead of one.

One other bit of peak kick off fanfare, there was a company wide kick off meeting/event thing on Wednesday from 5 to 6 pm. I could have attended for more chances to win $25 gift cards, I heard 15 of them were passed out. In the past this was the event where laptops and other high value prizes use to be given out, take that as you will. But I had the day off and decided not to go in.

On Monday and Saturday, each employee also got a pumpkin pie to take home (you don’t get two, it’s just that with the way the shifts work, there is no one day that all employees are present). Then today is also Thanksgiving meal day, they’ll be providing turkey dinner for all employees at their regularly scheduled lunch time. It sounds like we’ll be fed one day in December too, as a Holiday meal.

As for working on Thanksgiving, that definitely depends on how much work there is. Up until last Thursday there was no answer, once the higher ups knew how much work we were expected to have, they told us Inbound will be working 9:30 pm to 3:30 am (our usual shift is 5:30 pm to 4 am). A lot of the Staff and Amazon folks were happy at the announcement, but me and several other of the WorkCampers agreed that we would have preferred to work the full day for more money, it’s not like we have anywhere special to be.

Here’s hoping the overtime will magically appear on Friday, but I’m not holding my breath. I am keeping an eye out for the chance to cross-train into Outbound though, so if they get busy starting on Black Friday maybe I can snag some overtime with them. We’ll see. In the meantime, stay warm out there, and drive safe if you’re heading somewhere for Thanksgiving this week.

Image courtesy ofย teapotqueen

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  1. Gary on November 20, 2012 at 2:24 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Becky. Amen to the comment about it’s not normal to work nights. Here at Hallmark in Topeka, I’ve been working 11pm-7:30am and it seems I’ve had lot of days where my sleeping is usually only a few hours, but as you, I seem to have enough to get me through the next night. Strange. It can’t be that healthy. When our plant closes I’m definately going to try for day hours if possible, or maybe get a fiberglass rv and hit the road. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Becky on November 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      How long have you been working nights Gary? I’ve been doing it for 6 weeks now, I keep wondering if the weird sleeping is going to catch up with me at some point and I’ll need to take a weekend to recover. Since I only have 5 more weeks to go though it might not come to that. Instead I might have problems being awake during the day on Christmas to do stuff with my family, hehe.

      If you do decide to go RVing, you know I’ll be rooting for you. ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Gary on November 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm

        Thanks Becky. I work in Topeka, but live in Lawrence. As a matter of fact, I was cruisin’ in town today and saw a Casita parked in front of a house by the college. Looked exactly like yours. Thought about stopping and seeing if they wanted to sell it but lost my nerve. I’ve worked nights for about 2 years now and what’s worse, it’s (5) eight hour days. So the only full day I have off is Saturday. Turns into a real grind and I feel tired all the time. Hang in there for 5 more weeks and I’m sure you’ll adjust back to normal hours just fine. Love your website !!!

        • Becky on November 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm

          Ick. Yeah I’m really liking the 4 days a week thing I have to say.

          I found my Casita through Craigslist, that’d be a good place to start.

  2. Craig on November 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Becky..We have to pay our own electric out here..The rv park we are at charges ( I hope you are sitting down) $100 a month because they have no meters .There are only two rv parks in Fernley they fill early in the season . We are in Reno a 30 mile drive .So we are hoping to get lots of overtime to pay for the extra money we are spending.So far we are getting our 40 hours in Outbound , there as been very little talk of VTO..We were told that overtime should start this week ..We will have to see about that ..

    • Becky on November 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you for sharing Craig, it’s nice to know this information in case anyone asks about Fernley, now I have something to tell them.

  3. Fireman Steve on November 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Thanks for the thorough updates, and Happy Thanksgiving to you !!

    • Becky on November 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      You’re welcome Steve, you too!

  4. Misty on November 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Sounds like a lot of different experiences going on out there. Sounds like it’s going pretty well as far as a temp job goes, though. I hope it picks up for you for the holiday rush! (I know you need the overtime!)
    Misty recently posted..Do whatโ€™s right for youMy Profile

    • Becky on November 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

      Heya Misty,

      A lack of continuity has long been associated with the WorkCamper experience, I guess that’s what happens when a company gets as big as Amazon has. But yeah, I’m making at least my 40 hours a week so can’t complain. Crossing my fingers for what happens after Thursday.

  5. Craig on November 19, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Well I’m pretty jealous of you all back there. Out here in Fernley Nevada our kick off was the manager saying at morning stand up…” Ok it’s peak season now,anybody have a safety tip.” We were told that on thanksgiving we’ll get off 3 hours early .But like you, we would rather work , we have no where to go.It is hard to get information about things that are going on..As pickers we are moving around and don’t have the chance to stand around and talk to our managers ..Also we have recieved no extra stuff , no amazon shirts , no thanksgiving meal .and no give aways ..Be safe out there

    • Becky on November 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Heya Craig,

      It’s interesting to hear about the differences between sites. Not getting the raffles and swag is a bummer, but are you getting your full hours in Outbound? When I was researching this opportunity, I heard about more negative experiences related to Fernley than to the other sites but hey, maybe that’s why they pay you guys more. I’ve also been wanting to ask someone who worked at Fernley if you were on your own for the electric bill.

      As for information and communication, yeah, a common problem sounds like.

  6. Evelyn on November 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    It sounds like your inbound experience has been different than our outbound as pickers. We have had 21.5 mandatory time off hours since starting in mid October. We’re shift 8 and I think we’ve had the most mandatory time off. Although, you were supposed to get an extra ticket for participating in the kick off dress ups, at our stand up they only gave us an extra ticket once on Friday and that was after I asked for it. It seems lack of communication among departments and with management is a big problem. We worked here last year and it was much busier before Thanksgiving. I believe the extra warehouses opened this year in combination with the sluggish economy is the problem. Hurricane Sandy sure didn’t help. We never heard anything about a meal tonight so it will be interesting to see if we get one.

    We have been told that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving will be mandatory 11 hour shifts for outbound. And on Thanksgiving night we’ll be working 9 pm to 3:30 am. I think those hours are paid at time and a half overtime so that will help. I guess it is what it is. Its still a good way to make a decent amount of money as a temporary seasonal employee.
    Evelyn recently posted..Another Day OffMy Profile

    • Becky on November 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Ineed Evelyn, I kind of was wondering how Outbound had it. I guess even in the slower economy we’re still getting freight in so Inbound still has stuff to do. Although we won’t be getting the rush after Thanksgiving like Outbound will.

      I’ll agree that communication is lacking at times. I’ve heard from people who’ve done CamperForce over the years that sadly it seems to be a common issue and doesn’t seem to improve from year to year. Or that it improves in one area and there is a slide in another.

      As you said though, I’m still making pretty good money even without the overtime so, can’t complain too much.

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